I arose early and was on the road by 8:30. My host had prepared a detailed route to Lewes, then looping north to Killan's Pond State Park, but I changed plans once again and decided to camp at Cape Henlopen just outside of Delaware's oldest town. I rode through more of Delaware's agricultural area on a morning that was humid well before noon. At one point I thought I got lost, and a couple of roadies out for a ride pulled over to help me out with directions. As we sweated and said goodbyes, they saw a combine come down the road followed by a line of cars. "Hey, let's draft the combine" one said to another, and they jumped on, clicked in, and pulled in behind the combine and ahead of the first car. "Delaware cyclists are tough" I thought as I headed towards Lewes.

Once I crossed to town, I turned right on the road leading to the ferry terminal. I passed on it and its promised trip to Cape May, New Jersey and headed to Cape Henlopen State Park. They managed to find a tent site for me, I gritted my teeth and paid the 32 bucks they required for an out of state resident, and I had a place to stay. I rode around the park on the extensive bike trail, visited the WWII era Fort Miles, and had lunch.

The park's Scenic Overlook stands above the Great Dune, the largest such formation between New England and North Carolina. Another tourist took my photo with the Dune a striking backdrop.

I decided to finally put my swimsuit to use this trip and parked at the Point Comfort Station, changed, and went into the surf. While going into the water was a treat, I should have chosen a different beach. The surf is very strong on the ocean side of the Cape, and the undertow was fierce. I was sucked under the water several times, the first time with a current so strong it pulled my swimsuit to my ankles. Swimming was out of the question, and my bodysurfing had mixed results. And getting pounded by the surf isn't the kindest treatment a curved spine and rickety joints can receive. I left after about a half hour and a half glass of seawater.

Sitting on the ferry terminal with the retirees watching the boat come in was considerably more relaxing. I was tempted to take the ferry to Cape May and back, but I couldn't afford the three hours time. Another day, definitely.

Once I was rolling to the town of Lewes proper, I noticed my front tire felt spongy again. I determined to find the town's bike shop while I was out. Before then, I stopped at the Zwaanendael Museum, devoted to the history of Lewes from the initial Dutch settlement of 1631 to the present. As the elderly docent at the museum explained to me, in 1931 the city decided to pay tribute to Delaware's Dutch heritage, and so they constructed a replica of a town hall in The Netherlands. "We had many men out of work at that time," she told me, "and it seemed a good way to get folks doing something and honor Delaware's history as well. It was my generation's version of a stimulus package."

After more exploring, I came to the bike shop, Ocean Cycles. It was a little place that catered to day visitors wanting to rent beach cruisers. I parked my bike and trailer amid the cruisers and walked in.

"Hi, I'm having a problem with my front tire. I wonder if you can take a look at it?"

A short chubby guy looked up from filling out a rental form. "What's the matter?"

"I've had two tubes go soft in two days. I'm wondering if there's a problem with the tire."

"You want us to replace it?"

"No, it's a brand new tire. I just want a professional to look at it."

The man called out to his mechanic in the back and returned to his forms. I brought the wheel back and explained what was going on. He checked it, found nothing wrong with the tube or tire, and suggested we replace the tube anyway. I agreed, and the old tube went in the trash.

While this was going on we talked about touring.

"I did a tour recently, going from North Philly to Key West. I rode my Huffy with all my gear in a backpack and slept behind 7-11s."

"Weren't you afraid of being arrested?"

"Nah, but the cops made me move a few times. I didn't make it to Key West though."

I then watched, stunned, as the mechanic tried to put a Schraeder tube into my wheel. The man behind the counter had come back stopped him. "No, it's one of those with the long stem."

"Oh, one of those."

The mechanic then put the new tube in, placed the tire on the wheel, and carefully installed the wheel back on the fork. Once it was on, he tried to inflate the tire, but couldn't get the pump attached to the valve stem properly. So the man behind the counter used a monkey wrench to yank the stem out further so he could get a tight fit. The tire was fully inflated, but no sooner did I get to the counter to pay for the 'service' than we heard the expected gunshot report. I wound up replacing the tube myself in a few minutes and getting the tire inflated with my Road Morph. The cost had only been 25 bucks for the 'service' provided by the shop, the cost of a new tube, and about 50 minutes of my day.

I'm still asking myself if this was a case of an incompetent, badly run shop or a good one getting even with a difficult customer. I don't think I was at all rude, demanding, or difficult. Even if they were upset I didn't buy a new tire from them, there's no need to treat a cyclist like that. As for the mechanic who never got to Key West, somehow I suspect he never got further south than Lewes, Delaware.

After dinner and ice cream helped take the sting out of the bad experience at the bike shop, I headed back to camp to set up my tent and unhook the trailer. I was the only cycletourist there.

Once the trailer was unhooked I rode through the park again, soaking in everything. One of the WWII observation towers was open to visitors, and so I climbed up the circular stairwell 89 feet and took photos from the top. Fort Miles lay below.

And somewhere on the other side of the Atlantic was Europe:

The sun was setting fast, so I climbed down the tower steps, headed back to camp, and settled in for the night.